Author Archives: Molly Jacober

Weddings at Avalanche Ranch

September is notoriously the best month for weddings in Colorado. With an outdoor wedding, it is a bit of a gamble, for there have been plenty of weekends where the temperatures plummet, wind howls and winter is chomping at the bit. But most of the time it is mild, crisp, colorful and beautiful. At Avalanche Ranch, we often have a wedding every weekend in September. That is a lot of responsibility! For most people, their wedding day is one of the biggest events in their lifetime and they have been visualizing it for a long time. We want to make sure it comes together in the best possible way to meet their expectations and go smoothly. There are some elements we can control and some we cannot. We can help plan, set up, support, and suggest, but we can’t control the weather.

In Colorado, there is a saying, “If you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes and it will change”.

That is what we experienced last weekend. The event was kicked off, tables were set, the keg was tapped, outfits were on (which I have to say were great outfits! Inspired by the movie the Big Lebowski) and the wind and rain moved in. Whether you were the mother-of-the-bride or a guest reveler influenced your blood pressure at the time. The caterer showed up at that moment too. This is The Opportunity to Panic… when the weather doesn’t cooperate with the itinerary. I appreciate that sense of urgency, for a lot of planning and time has gone into that 6-hour window. But the reality is that all of those people are so happy to be together, especially when it is 50 of your closest friends and family. They will be fine for 10-45 minutes. They will talk and drink and laugh. They will be forced into a closer space to visit more intimately and possibly visit with someone they haven’t visited with until then. They may not even notice that it wasn’t part of the plan or even care.

Since it is Colorado, the storm is likely to pass quickly, close to 10 minutes tops. And then the best part comes: the sky brightens, the light is dramatic, a rainbow crosses the peaks and pictures need no filter. Not that our scenery is diminished on a bluebird day, it’s just that there is a charge in the air after a storm and the landscape, atmosphere, and light is somehow intensified.

This last weekend turned out just perfect, in its own way. The caterer set up, the storm cleared, the guests were happy, the food was served and it was delicious. As a resident of Avalanche Ranch, I get to be happy and festive by association. When a group of people is celebrating their most important day it rubs off on those around them. I relish their joy. I enjoy witnessing each individual couples way of celebrating. Each wedding takes on its own personality and the elements play their part.

Summer in the Rocky Mountains

Summer in the Rocky Mountains is breathtaking. Summer is also too short. Every summer I make a vow to get out more, get higher (elevation) and take advantage of this magnificent backyard. From Avalanche Ranch there are at least 8 National Forest trailheads within a 5 to 15 minute drive. Most of which service the high country, traveling up to treeline, mountain passes and drainages that lead to Aspen or Crested Butte.

This past Saturday I ventured out with my parents, my husband and my 12 year old son. We drove 15 minutes up the road to Marble. At 9 AM we left our car at the trailhead and headed into the mountains. No hikes from the Crystal RIver Valley start out gradually, so within the first mile we accomplished a lot of elevation gain. Climbing through timber and along a creek we stretched our calves and acclimatized our lungs. Somehow, while I am huffing and puffing, my son can keep a running dialog about the trees, the moss, the rocks and life in general. We passed an Outward Bound course about an hour into our hike. Young faces completing 15 days in the Snowmass Wilderness, brought together into the Mountains from all different backgrounds.

About 1000 feet up from the trailhead the valley opened up before us and our destination was in view. Dauntingly we could see the hanging valley another couple thousand feet up, off trail. This was my dad’s idea. A day trip to a lake up above treeline and off trail. By 2:30 PM we had scrambled through brush, over talus, grabbing onto trees to our destination. High above treeline the lake was still breaking up from the winter. My dad casted his line in next to the ice and brought in a few beautiful cutthroats. Three dogs were carefully monitoring his line.

There is no place on earth I would rather be than the high country. It is not only the beauty that inspires, but also the quiet. The high mountains are rugged and hard to get to (not that hard, but it does take physical work). Being out there awakens the senses.

A day trip is hard, because you realize that you have made it to this incredible place, and now you have to leave it. Wouldn’t it be better to stay a couple nights, decompress and slow down. But we packed up and headed back, grateful for the day we had. Descending was no easy feat and I prefer going up instead of down. My son made up 3 lengthy stories along the way, keeping us distracted from our aching knees.

We staggered to our car around 6:30 PM and drove directly into Marble to Slow Groovin’ BBQ for dinner and cocktails. Even after a mere 9 hours in the backcountry we were a little culture shocked to be around people. But we gladly joined the throngs to enjoy the ambiance and dive into a well earned, delicious meal!
When can I go again?

Plan a Day Visit to the Hot Springs


When you visit Avalanche Ranch, you are not required to stay overnight. Of course, the overnight experience provides more hours to absorb all the benefits, i.e. the views, the hot springs, Cowboy Steve, the sheep, fresh eggs in the morning, the cute cabins… However, 4 hours are not too few to start with the benefits of the hot springs and whet your palate for the rest of the experience.

As a day visitor, you can choose between the morning, from 9am-1pm, or the afternoon, from 1pm-5pm. Reservations are recommended as there are limited spaces available in each time slot. Reservations for Hot Springs day use is not an industry standard, it does throw people off at first. It is not intended to keep out the locals, or make it exclusive, or to run the office staff frantic. We made a choice in the first year of operation to try and preserve quality over quantity. In order to do so, we quickly realized a reservation system was needed as there was no way to predict if 90 people would descend at 2 pm on any given day to pack the pools shoulder to shoulder.

The huge benefit to the reservation system is that there is a good chance that on any given day the pools will likely NOT be crowded and sometimes you may be the only one in them. Your best chance for quiet is a weekday morning. (Forgive me George for revealing that secret!) Of course, there are the rare occasions when all the day visitors and lodging guests decide to visit the pools at the same time…. even then it is a far cry from the bustle of the Glenwood Hot Springs when school is out.
If you have family coming into town, need some quiet “me” time, a birthday treat, muscle therapy, special time with a child, a break from the city, or no reason at all give us a call and reserve a place in the springs. Bring some water, snacks and enough time and let yourself absorb all that Avalanche Ranch Hot Springs has to offer even if only for an hour or four. Want to make your day trip even more special? Plan ahead and book a therapeutic massage with your soak. We hope to see you soon!

 

History of the Ranch : 1940-1970

People often ask about the history of Avalanche Ranch and shamefully, I can’t answer with confidence. After 12 years here I should probably know more about the legacy underfoot. So I am on a mission to compile the history to the best of my ability. To start, on March 9th, I interviewed Wallace Parker about the years his family owned and ran Avalanche Ranch. He wove tales of his time here for nearly 2 hours. Here is a brief recap.

Wallace and his parents, Olyn and Virginia, were from Fort Worth, TX. In the late 1930’s early 1940’s they started vacationing in Colorado at different cabin resorts. He states that “in those days when you went to those cabins in most of Colorado they did not have indoor plumbing. They had an outhouse and they had a pump with water, and you carried your water in. They had either coal or wood burning stoves”. In 1948 the Parker family decided that they would like to move to Colorado and build a cabin resort with indoor facilities. So they corresponded with folks in the Western and Southwestern part of the state until they connected with a realtor out of Durango. The realtor’s son was the manager of JC Penny in Glenwood Springs and he was in the market to sell a second home in the Crystal River Valley. In June of 1948, when Wallace was 19 years old, his parents bought the Gamekeeper’s Lodge, 1 mile South of Redstone. (The Gamekeeper’s Lodge is now one of the off-site units rented by Avalanche Ranch and owned by Jeff & Janette Bier.)

In the March of 1949 my parents came to Colorado and moved into the Gamekeeper’s Lodge and hired 3 carpenters and converted the barn into 3 rental units and built 3 log cabins. Those 3 cabins are over at Avalanche Ranch today. Those people who we purchased from had thought about doing something with that [property] and they were going to call it Swiss Village. And that’s how we got the name Swiss Village and the entire years of the operation of the resort it was called Swiss Village. Even when the cabins were moved to Avalanche Ranch.

In 1949 the former owner of the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool, Frank Kissler, bought the Redstone Inn and a lot of acreage on the West side of the highway. He offered a price to buy the Gamekeeper’s Lodge that the Parker’s couldn’t refuse. So the Parkers sold to Kissler and bought 140 acres 5 miles North at Avalanche Ranch.

In the spring of ‘50, my dad engaged Red Merril, who had an excavation company in Carbondale, to come up and create the roads where the cabins are. Red had a crane and a flatbed trailer and truck and they put cables around the cabins. Put 4 notches in them and put the cables around them and picked them up with the crane and put them on his flatbed truck. Then the truck and crane came down here to places that were already set up and set those cabins down.

The Parker family moved 8 cabins from the Gamekeepers to Avalanche Ranch. At Avalanche Ranch the physical buildings that already existed were the main house (now red), the barn and 4 cabins. They owned and operated the Swiss Village Resort until 1976. They were open May-October and the cabins had indoor facilities and electricity. Most people stayed with them for at least a week at a time. A good portion of their guests were from Texas and many of them came back year after year. “You know I think from the very beginning that our time in the Crystal River Valley is tied irrevocably with the time spent at Avalanche Ranch.” Wallace and his wife Naomi now reside next door in the neighborhood Wallace subdivided from Avalanche Ranch. Wallace retired from the Roaring Fork School district after 30+ years of service. Wallace is going to be 89 in June. He and Naomi have 4 daughters, Triss, Penny, Cari, Janet, 7 grandkids and 10 great-grandkids.

Art at the Pools

The Avalanche Ranch hot springs were designed and built between 2008-2010. In the initial phases, we hosted a charette. We brought together the family (which includes a teacher, photographer, two contractors and resident manager), an engineer, landscape designer, and business planner. We met over a number of days and drafted a master plan. The collaborative design far exceeded what any one of us could do singularly. Bringing different visions and talent together to create a beautiful space set a precedent that we still follow today.

When I take a moment to sit in the springs, I love to look at and reflect on the details.

All of the rocks that are placed around the pool landscape were collected nearby. My husband Tai, and a man we call the “rock-guy” (who I have since forgotten his proper name) worked together to place them. Tai is linear and practical and he drove the excavator. The “rock-guy” was zany, artsy and seemingly drunk most of the time. His mind was anything but linear. Somehow they made the perfect team. Conglomerates were placed together to form a private screen in the top pool. A rock that mimics the shape of Elephant Mountain was placed next to the stream on the patio by the middle pool. The “bird bath” rock was placed perfectly at the base of the stairs, dotted with lichen. The rock under the waterfall and all the rocks in the wall were found here and there on the property. We had walked by them for years. Leaned against them. Now they are flipped upside down, 90 degrees and puzzled together. I like to think that it all looks “natural” even though it was constructed by men.

The bridge to the upper story of the barn was designed to flow through two branches of a Boxelder Tree. The trees rose above the middle pool to form a shifting canopy. On a quiet summer day, a Boxelder tree in the yard of the Ranch House fell without warning and luckily without incident. We started looking around and the potential danger threw every tree into question. The two branches that framed the bridge stemmed from one root we found to be rotten and compromised. Safety first, aesthetics second. When we took them down there was a void. So we commissioned David Powers, a hot glass artist, to create two pieces. David works as an artist and teacher at the Colorado Rocky Mountain School in Carbondale. He formally taught ceramics and was my teacher in High School. I had seen his glass flowers with iron stems and thought it would be great to bring color to the Pool area and have an eternal garden. His pieces now sit balanced on either side of the bridge. Blue, red and yellow bursting out of a former Boxelder tree.

The ironwork around the Hot Springs was designed by my husband, Tai and welded by Diego Garcia. Diego is a soft-spoken man who has been welding for 15 years. Prior to learning to weld he was in the fashion industry in Mexico and designed jeans. If you look closely at the joints in the railings and gates it is hard to believe they were done by hand. Impeccably crafted by a perfectionist. I asked Diego if he thought of his work as structural or artistic and he prefers both.

The most recent addition to the creative scene by the Hot Springs is a marble sculpture by the middle pool. I could not keep a plant alive in the garden by the waterfall. I tried a sage bush and two types of willow. Thinking a riparian plant would work with the riverbank feel. But the steam and extreme contrast of cold and hot seemed determined to kill. So I opted for art. Local artist, Judy Fox-Perry, started working in marble a few years ago. She attends the Marble/marble Symposium in the summers where she works alongside other artists. At the symposium, sculptors of all ages, with various levels of experience and expertise, work on their individual pieces during each intense 8-day workshop session. There are 3 sessions per summer. Judy bought the piece of marble, weighing in at 1000 lbs, from the quarry in Marble (just 13 miles South of us) and began working on it in the company of other artists at the symposium. The inspiration for the piece was drawn from the herd of Bighorn Sheep that reside up Avalanche Creek. Judy studied the pool site as well as various skulls and pictures of Bighorns. When you sit in the middle pool there is an aperture through the horn to view the ridge and peak across the valley. I like to run my hand along the perfectly white smooth surface of the curve. On the east side of the sculpture, there is a fun surprise for all ages.

Our Amazing Staff At Avalanche Ranch

Chicken working the front desk at Avalanche Ranch in Colorado

It seems appropriate this month to honor our staff and to give thanks for their hard work and loyalty. Without our staff, we would be lost! And with them, we are in luck! For they are the bedrock of the operation and they make every day a success.

We currently have 13 people (in addition to our family members) on staff here: 2 people in maintenance, 4 at the front desk, 1 on-call and 6 housekeepers.

Dave and John are our Maintenance Men. They both joined our team in the spring of 2016. With Dave’s energy, experience and ideas we have been able to accomplish a plethora of projects. We have remodeled many kitchens and bathrooms this year and resolved a bunch of plumbing issues. As most of our cabins were built long ago we find there is always something in need of modernizing. Dave has also revolutionized the operations of the hot springs mechanical room, hopefully reducing the amount of head scratching around here!

John came to us with lots of experience in the lodging industry. He is a great resource when it comes to everything hotel! He has seen it and he has resolved it. When he pulls up in his old Chevy with his fuzzy dice hanging off the mirror, we know things are going to get done. He has had to carry a full load with his families needs but has been steadfast and hardworking when able. He is the most deserving of the good family news he just received and he is the most animated and happy we have seen him in a long time! YEAH!

Avalanche Ranch front desk staff

In the office running the front desk and the retail shop, we have Robin, Ally, Grace and Gabby. Robin came on staff in October of 2014 and we wonder how we operated before her!?! She wears her heart on her sleeve, is kind to everyone and is always in motion. Guests love her! And rightfully! She takes care of everyone in a genuine and thoughtful manner. As a guest departed recently, I overheard her comment to Robin, “What would they do without you?”. Honestly, we can’t imagine.

Ally joined us in April. She is full of energy and a people person as well. Her flair for the retail store is wonderful! She is always attentive to the enormous variety of items we offer and really enjoys sharing her knowledge with the guests. She has taken on a full load balancing schoolwork and Avalanche Ranch and is impressively on top of it all!

Grace and Gabby are our newest additions to our Avalanche Ranch “family”. We are excited and grateful to have them!

We are so lucky to have the 6 hard-working and reliable women that make up the housekeeping staff: Felicisima, Laura, Lili, Nersi, Leticia and Lizbeth. The laundry room is right below my living room and kitchen and I am often privy to their laughing and chatter when I am at home. They are lively and funny. And they are all related. I am still navigating the threads of their relation, but I think this is it: Felicisima is Laura and Lili’s mom. Felicisima’s brother is married to Lizbeth. Laura’s husband is Leticia’s husband’s brother. And Nersi! Shoot I forgot how she is related. I have to ask her again, but she and I are both quiet… so.

Avalanche Ranch housekeeping staff

Felicisima and Laura joined us here in the spring of 2012. I think I can remember 1 or 2 days that Felicisima has requested off. Otherwise, she has been here 5 days a week for 5 years. She is meticulous. Yet easy going.

Laura has the difficult job of translating between myself and the housekeepers. My Spanish is limited and so she is often the go-between and she is very diplomatic.

Lili came on to help out part-time and I immediately needed her full-time. Despite working two jobs and being a mother of a young child she has never complained or turned down the work.

Leticia is the jokester. She is quick to laugh and tease. The other ladies call her “Gorda”. Most women wouldn’t go for that. She is opinionated and questioning. Which helps keep me on my toes and not stagnating.

Nersi is quiet and I realize I don’t know much about her. But I am impressed by her work ethic and her reliability. She has been here just shy of a year. Recently we joked about an incident in one of the cabins and it was the first time that we broke through the language barrier to humor.

Lizbeth is our newest addition. She had the hard role of joining a group and being the newest arrival. Often in a group of women, it can be lethal. But she is steadfast, works hard and is a quiet authority. She is learning English on the side and cracks a big shy smile when you ask her how it’s going.

Avalanche Ranch staff cleaning the hot springs

William and his wife, Kenna, just moved on site to be on call at night. William is an aspiring musician who also wears a tool belt. He is super friendly and willing. His nightly rounds on the grounds and through the pool area have taken a significant weight from my dad’s load. (Not that my dad won’t find something else to carry!)

I am not great at telling the staff how great they are. I don’t take them for granted, quite the opposite, but I forget to express and applaud all the amazing contributions they do. They have told me a few times that I’m not great at communicating either… So let it be known, I am thankful! And I hope they stay with us as long as possible!

Staying in a Cabin

Cab·in
ˈkabən/

Noun
1. A private room or compartment on a ship.
2. A small shelter or house, made of wood and situated in a wild or remote area.
Synonyms:
Cottage, Log Cabin, Shack, Chantey, Hut

Verb
1. confine in a small place.

 

When I think of the history of the Western United States I often visualize caravan wagons, homesteaders building log cabins and a landscape full of wildlife. I am a connoisseur of Western literature and also devour Western movies, so my images are aided by fiction and Hollywood. But the reality is the West was discovered and developed by people traveling in caravans and building log cabins. And the West was full of wildlife and still is.

When I analyze the traffic to our Avalanche Ranch website we rank our key-words, the words people enter into the search engines that will pull our site up. “Log Cabin”, “Colorado Cabins”, “Cabins and Hot Springs” rank high on the list. That means people that find us are looking specifically for a cabin. I assume that they know the general meaning of what kind of accommodation a “cabin” is.

What if our prospective guests search us strictly for “Hot Springs” and they see our reviews, the beautiful pictures and then, they book… but, they have no experience with the “cabin” genre of lodging accommodations.

It is a genre. In the lodging industry, there are different types of lodging. More familiar to people is the difference between a Motel and a Hotel. Or between the Holiday Inn Express and the Ritz Carlton. Most hotels have daily service and expected conveniences (like a gym or breakfast included). If a person that has frequented many hotels, but never a “cabin”, what will they expect when they come?

I have frequented many cabins. And we have lots of guests who have done the same. The guests who are familiar with “cabins” usually call and ask the following questions: Do you provide linens and towels? Do you provide wood for the wood-burning stoves? Is there heat? When I field these questions I know they will be pleasantly surprised when they arrive. Because like me they have been to cabins that when you open the door you feel like you should have spurs on your boots, dirt in your nostrils and no expectation of a shower.
The cabins that are just a shelter and an access point to the great outdoors. Our cabins, within the context of “cabins”, are well appointed and clean. But they are not at the top of the ladder. We pride ourselves on providing a top-notch cabin experience at an affordable level. Our cabins are “cabiny” on the inside and outside, the decor and themes picked out by myself and my mom, with love.

Recently, we have experienced more people finding us and staying with us who are not equipped for “cabin” life. If you don’t know how cabins differ from a typical hotel I imagine there is no way to properly form a mental image. We want to find a way to better inform our guests.

We have posted the definition of a cabin on the splash page of our website to start. But a definition may not be enough. Because the definition truly starts when the cabin was built. Our cabins were built between 1889 and 1950. Building codes didn’t exist. They are not built on foundations. Other elements influence the definition as well. Where it is located. We are in the mountains, on a ranch and near trees. So part of the cabin experience includes the residents of the mountains, forest, and ranch. We have deer, bear, mice, squirrels, bugs, and birds. The sheep, llama, and chickens reside nearby. Our goal is to keep all wildlife out of the cabins. But you may see them on the property and must be prepared.

Maybe… the best way to preface a stay in a cabin is to suggest it as a sampling of Western history. The homesteaders who built Cabin #13 and the barn started a legacy. Fortunately, we have upgraded the cabins and they now have plumbing, electricity, heat and modern comfort. But they still retain the authentic rough-hewn wood, tin roofs, mountain views and access to the outdoors. There are dramatic differences between present day and 1889 (there are motorized vehicles on the road!). However, the astounding beauty is the same, still attracting people to this area today as it did in 1889. No need to remember your spurs, but please remember we are a cabin resort!

Coming Home

Every year we travel to the lake country in Northern Wisconsin to luxuriate in quiet relaxation, swimming, island living, and loon calls. Our voyage there is tradition. It is the mid-western lineage flowing through our veins that inspires us to drive 22 hours East and North to find water. Root beer colored lake water full of Bass and Musky. 78 degree water, the perfect temperature for kids to jump into all day long. We love it and it is beautiful.

But…There is nothing like coming home from vacation to remind me of how lucky I am to live where I do. When we hit the Eastern plains of Colorado, cruising I-76 and are past Fort Morgan heading West… my eyes are searching. The mountains are there, out of focus at first, then coming into focus. When we crest Floyd Hill West of Denver my senses are alert. The mountains to me are an embrace that comforts and welcomes me. The landmarks that rise up hundreds of feet, easily seen from any direction give me back my sense of direction.
I remember a professor in college stating that she felt claustrophobic in the mountains, like she was being compressed. I can’t relate to that reaction. I feel tucked-in and oriented. I need to look up at granite peaks, forward at valleys and down at crystal clear streams to know I am home.

And that is what I find when we finally pull onto Highway 133 at Carbondale. After passing the fire station South of town the Crystal River Valley draws us forward, Mt. Sopris towers above and the Crystal River dips and flows to our East. After two weeks in the North country all of the details of home come into precise focus. The sky is vibrant blue, Elephant Mountain is more dramatic, Avalanche Ranch is lush green, and our vegetable garden is amazing.
There is undeniable beauty in the places I visit. The rolling hills and small family farms in Iowa, the inlet of the lake we frequent in Wisconsin with its delicate water lilies and Blue Heron, the calls of the loons as we doze off at night. But I could argue that none of it compares to the breath-taking geologic landscape of the Glenwood Canyon, to the raw natural beauty of the Crystal River Valley and the hidden splendor of Avalanche Ranch.

Transformation From Life On The Ranch

In the summer months, we witness a transformation from when our guests arrive to when they depart. With some groups, the transformation is more dramatic than others.

In the summer we have a 3-night minimum, so guests stay longer than in other months.  Some family reunions, weddings, and Yoga retreats stay even longer, between 4-7 nights. Our guests travel from all over the world, but the largest contingency is from the Denver metro area, Texas cities, and California. We try to advertise with direct honesty, real pictures of the property, the interiors of the cabins, and descriptions of the mountains.

The map on our “Find Us” page is accurate and shows that we are nearly 4 hours from the Denver airport. However, there is no way to explain to some people how remote and pastoral Avalanche Ranch truly is, and how a cabin here is different from a 4-star hotel room. Their imagination does not have the experience or imagery to capture it.

Often people are wound tight from the city when they show up at Avalanche Ranch. Their expectations are not in line with our reality. We do not have Uber service here, and there is no cell service on the property. The nearest coffee shop is 20 minutes away. Our wi-fi speed is only 3mbs compared to their 100mbs at home. We do not service the cabin daily. Their anxiety on arrival is palpable.

Two days ago, Ally, who works in the office, came up the hill to the office holding two iced coffees from Starbucks. Most days she merrily greets guests and chats idly on arrival. That morning she felt an intense stirring in the guests with envious stares. “Where did you get those?” one of the guests inquired, audibly longing for an iced coffee from Starbucks. She said it was like she was holding a golden chalice and maybe there was a chance of coffee mugging (no pun intended).

That incident was day 2 of a 7-day family reunion. What we witnessed the rest of the week was them settling in, slowing down and melting into country living. They adapted to the occasional mouse, the self-sufficiency of our accommodations, the lack of cyber access. When this group departed, they were much calmer. “Mellow” is the perfect word to describe them.  Maybe even transformed.

This is not uncommon at Avalanche Ranch. A group last year showed up from L.A., New York and other cities around the U.S. Their arrival was intense and uncomfortable, they took jabs at what they saw as our insufficiencies. We tried to comfort them, but we cannot conjure Uber or technology or the Ritz Carlton. We are who we are. The beauty of the experience is that they left in a completely different state of mind. They were happy and healthy and peaceful. They loved Avalanche Ranch!

Our departing guests act as testimony to the success of life at Avalanche Ranch. They may not be aware of the transformation, but we see it as a pat on the back. It shows us that we’ve done our jobs and offered the kind of peace and relaxation only a place like Avalanche Ranch can bring to city dwellers.  

Health Benefits of the Hot Springs: Part 1


In May of 2011 we opened the Avalanche Ranch Hot Springs. Over time the minerals have accumulated on the sides of the pools and built travertine in the creek. The mineral makeup of the hot water, it’s mineral suspension and precipitation never ceases to amaze us, and from the maintenance perspective, never ceases to baffle us.

What about these minerals?

Guests commonly ask, “what minerals do these springs contain and at what levels”. We have posted the mineral levels on the website and out by the pools. Every hot spring around the world is different. My goal for this blog was to answer a bigger question, “how do the minerals affect us when we soak in the hot springs”. Hoping to find an easy answer I opened up Google. Ha! This is not a topic for an immediate gratification junkie. The answers don’t lie in hard science, so the topic grows larger and more questions reveal themselves. And suddenly I don’t know where to begin and what to write. I researched absorption through skin, learned about Balneonology, spoke to repeat guests and called on my brother for a Geology lesson. That is why this post is “Part 1”. I realize I have only touched the surface.

One main inspiration for this research is a testimonial from a repeat guest and loyal advocate for the waters at Avalanche Ranch. 8 years ago Garth was diagnosed with Lymphoma. Since 2012 he loyally visits Avalanche Ranch every year and says he would love to move into #15 and reside here! The only place he is pain free is in our Hot Springs and 2-3 hours following each soak. He has tried other hot springs but without the same result. He claims that the Lithium in the water alleviates his pain and the minimal odor from sulphur enhances the experience.

What I have gleaned from my research is that there is no hard science behind absorption of minerals through the skin, but there are so many testimonials similar to Garth’s. The effectiveness of soaking in hot springs to cure ailments is, by scientific measure, yet to be proven. From the directive of testimonials, human history and inference however, hot springs are proven to alleviate pain, stress, skin diseases, increase circulation, lower blood pressure and heighten mood. There is suggestive evidence that the heat in partnership with the pressure of the water mollifies our pain by blocking the pain receptors in our body.

“Balneotherapy” is a new word on my tongue, and I struggle to pronounce it. But it is an intuitive treatment throughout human history (and throughout my family history, I grew up in a house with only a bathtub, no shower). Balneotherapy is the act of treating health problems by bathing, usually in hot springs or other naturally mineral-rich water. It is thought to promote healing by increasing circulation, encouraging detox and easing stress.

I am not undone by the lack of hard-scientific evidence for the treatment of ailments by mineral rich waters. I do not need the formulaic proof of controlled trials. I stand by the testament of Garth and so many other happy guests that frequent Avalanche Ranch! And Let it be known there will be more to come on this topic!